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Rick Carlisle on Ryan Saunders: ‘He’s built so similarly to his dad’

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders reacts to an officials call during the second half Tuesday, Jan. 8, against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Minnesota won 119-117 to get the win in Saunders' coaching debut. Alonzo Adams / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle took a few minutes before the game Friday, Jan. 11, to approach Ryan Saunders, share a conversation, then a hug.

Carlisle said Saunders becoming the Timberwolves’ interim head coach is emotional for him. He was one of a number of coaches to attend Flip Saunders’ funeral in 2015, and Carlisle distinctly remembers the eulogy Ryan delivered to honor his father.

Carlisle loved that Ryan ran one of Flip’s go-to plays to open the Wolves’ win Tuesday over Oklahoma City.

“It was a nod to the heavens, for sure,” Carlisle said. “I know that somewhere up there his dad was beaming.”

Since Flip’s passing, Carlisle said he and Ryan have spent a lot of time together talking basketball, the league, Ryan’s career and other things Carlisle learned from some of the league’s great minds.

“This opportunity is something that is great for him and he’s built so similarly to his dad in terms of his character, in terms of his amazing way with people, in terms of his positive view on everything,” Carlisle said. “It’s an awful lot coming at him in a short period of time, but he’ll figure it out. He has a lot of good people around him here, and they got a nice team.

“I also want to say, Thibs (former coach Tom Thibodeau) did a very nice job of developing these guys on the one hand, and on the other hand putting some really good veteran guys with them now to help them move forward. It’s a dynamic business. Things happen so fast, so quickly, then all of a sudden you’re in here and the head coach of an NBA team — it’s a pretty amazing thing.”

Rose minute watch

Heavy minutes hasn’t been a recipe for Derrick Rose’s health this season.

The Wolves guard played 38-plus minutes five times, each under the leadership of the recently fired Thibodeau. Each time, he has either left the next game early or missed it altogether. Rose returned to the lineup Friday after an ankle injury caused him to miss the previous six games.

Don’t expect him to see exorbitant workloads for Rose moving forward. Saunders said he’d like to manage Rose’s minutes.

“That’s something, too, that obviously you want to communicate with the player and make sure he’s comfortable,” Saunders said. “Ultimately, this is about the players, and I want to make sure he’s in a great mental state in terms of how he’s able to play so he feels good about that.”

Rose said he and Saunders are “on the same page” with that.

“Me and Ryan talked about the minutes, and I think he understands where my body is,” Rose said.

So maybe Rose will play around 30 minutes or so?

“It should be somewhere around that,” he said.

Rose said he feels better but noted he wanted to take it easy in his first game back.

“Listen to my body while I’m out there on the floor,” he said. “Try not to do too much and with the talent that we have, I shouldn’t have to.”

KAT mum on fouls

Karl-Anthony Towns is stuffing every stat line this season, including one he would prefer not to.

Towns is averaging 3.8 fouls per game this season, second most in the NBA.

Towns was asked whether that’s because of something he’s doing or the way the game is being officiated.

“You choose, I ain’t getting no fine (for complaining),” Towns joked. “I could do some better things fundamentally sounder but, eh.”